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STAFFORD, Conn. – A year ago, Ryan Preece was packing up the trailer and heading home after Tech-Net Spring Sizzler qualifying. The 17-year-old was in much better spirits Saturday afternoon after earning the Coors Light Pole Award for Sunday’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Preece’s time of 18.057 seconds (99.684 mph) around the half-mile in the No. 3 Mizzy Construction/FJ Hubnay Chevrolet was fast enough to edge Eric Beers (No. 46 Reynold’s Wrecking/J&R Pre-Cast Chevrolet) and earn his first career pole. Beers was second in 18.084 (99.536).
“It feels really good,” said Preece, who will start seventh following the post-qualifying redraw of the top 10 positions. “It’s amazing – it just shows how much I’ve progressed. Without my dad and my team, I wouldn’t be where I am or even in the sport. Nothing comes easy, but that’s why we race.”
Following the redraw, Rob Summers and Frank Ruocco will start on the front row for Sunday’s race, with Jimmy Blewett and Eric Beers in the second row.
As a rookie, Preece did not qualify for the first two races of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season in 2007, including the Spring Sizzler. In the offseason, Preece went from his family-owned car to the historic No. 3 of Boehler Racing Enterprises.
Chuck Hossfeld (18.135/99.256), Ted Christopher (18.140/99.228) and Blewett (18.140/99.228) rounded out the top five in qualifying. Matt Hirschman, who set the track record of 18.009 last year in Spring Sizzler qualifying, posted the seventh-fastest lap Saturday.
Sunday’s events will be highlighted by honoring 1966 NASCAR Modified Division champion Ernie Gahan and the late Red Byron, the 1948 NASCAR Modified champion.